I am blessed to have been born to a great Mormon family in Idaho. My parents were sealed in the temple a few years before I was born and my home was always a place the spirit could reside, although we were in no way stringent, religious zealots. We were never an up-every-morning-reading-scriptures type family nor did we hold regular FHE, family prayer, or do things like attend church when we were out of town. My parents drank coffee every morning and I watched a lot of rated R movies growing up and obviously had my sex issues and stuff like. But it was a comfortable upbringing, a lovely family, and there was never any doubt in my mind what our belief system was or what was right and wrong. My parents were always trying to be better, which is what life is all about. Sure they still had their struggles and weaknesses and (wait-for-it) addictions, but I had my testimony firmly instilled in me at a young age, though it wasn't through any intentional act (i.e. fasting, rigorous scripture study, mission 'a-ha' experience etc). It was just something I always knew was true.
Let me say here that this was actually was one of the things that used to piss me off. I was so sick of hearing people blubber from the pulpit about how they knew w/ every fiber of their being that this church was true, Joseph Smith was a true prophet, God lives, yada yada. Yet I never had that lightening bolt, that burning boson, that overwhelming emotion. Where the hell was the Holy Ghost!? Wasn't he the one that was supposed to give me those feelings and personal revelations? Why did God always feel so far away and never hear and answer me? It finally dawned on me that I have always known the church is true. It wasn't something I needed an 'a-ha' experience for, or a miracle, or a lightening bolt from the heavens. It's always been there. To this day I have never doubted my basic testimony of the gospel. Of course there are branches of my testimony that are stronger than others, but I think that's the case w/ many people. I know I do have a strong, fundamental testimony that this church is true. Personally I think this concrete testimony of mine is one of my spritual gifts. I hope it always remains strong enough to weather the storms that continue to come my way in life. So far I'm still grounded and still a faithful believer.
I am the youngest child in my family. My older siblings are quite a bit older that I am, so they were gone from the house by the time I was 9. I was pretty much an only child and I grew up way out in the country. My mom and dad served in various callings and my Dad was called as Bishop at Ricks when I was about 11. I don't really remember privately studying scriptures by myself or saying prayers before bed or anything like that growing up. My parents and I went through the dramatized stories of the BOM on cassette tape once but that was about it. Like I mentioned above, we were always wanting and trying to do better and be better. I would say we were slightly warmer than lukewarm Mormons, if that makes sense.
I attended primary and still have all my articles of faith memorized! I was baptized at 8 (right on schedule!) although I don't remember anything about my baptism nor confirmation.
At 12 I moved into my priesthood classes and did my fast offerings, passed the sacrament, etc. like a good little Deacon. I was also the regular priesthood pianist. But I was also jacking off occasionally in an upstairs classroom by myself at church and by this time I had already had the experience w/ watching the girl finger herself at church too. Throughout my teens, I don't remember privately studying scriptures by myself or saying prayers before bed or anything like that. I went to seminary and memorized my scripture mastery scriptures, but I was so miserable at school and w/ my schoolmates that it made learning and feeling comfortable there so difficult. I wasn't able to walk for seminary graduation b/c of the sexual letters fiasco (see "my story") and was later mailed my graduation certificate. Woo-hoo! Yet I always was able to find solace in my cock and through regular sexual experiences w/ my cousins and other people.
During H.S. and then afterwards and all-throughout my promiscuous years, I was serving as ward organist. So every Sunday I was sitting on the stand giving the impression to all those in the congregation what a clean-cut, good little Mormon boy I was. Boy were they way off! By that point I had been able to completely construct myself an idyllic, perfect double life.
At 19, right smack-dab in the middle of my sexual exploits, I got my patriarchal blessing. Although I wasn't worthy to receive it at the time that blessing was just what I needed to start sobering me up and get the wheels turning. It talked about my mission, about my future wife and children, about serving a mission later in life, and gave me strong, bold counsel and warned me, very frighteningly I might add, what would happen if I chose to live my life a different way (which I knew and still do to this day that it refers to my same-sex addiction).
The part in my blessing about my mission kept going around and around in my head yet I had never planned on serving a mission before. It wasn't even a thought growing up! I wasn't the little Mormon boy that earnestly saves his money from mowing lawns and all that other shit growing up to one day use towards a mission. I think it was the break-up and desertion of a dear friend of mine that propelled me to serve a mission. The preparation leading up to it was some of the most wonderful and spiritual times of my life. I had a great time at the MTC! I loved it and never wanted to leave. Maybe it was the safety I felt or that I finally felt included in a group or had friends or something. I was also called as the District Leader at the MTC. Dunno where that came from but I gladly accepted the calling and performed my duties. I turned 22 while at the MTC.
When I first got out to my mission I remember I slept completely naked in the bed at the Mission President's house my first night b/c I wasn't used to the humidity. What a way to start things out!
There had been some trouble w/ disobedient missionaries in my mission so my Mission President had completely turned our mission into a military prep school. That was definitely something I wasn't prepared for. To make a long story short, the Assistants had to come and visit me my first week and tell me to shape up or ship out. After they left I walked down to the main road and called my parents and told them I wanted to come home and it wasn't for me. They said to just settle down and do what I'm told and it will get easier. I did settle down and let go of my pride and it did get easier.
During my mission I trained 3 times, and served as District Leader twice. I served for 20 months. I hold my mission (well, parts of my mission) very dear to my heart. I never did have that "this is the reason I was supposed to come here" experience, however. I just kind of floated. I never felt guided by the Holy Ghost or inspired to do this, that or the other. I can tell you that my eyes and understanding and knowledge of the gospel and scriptures were completely opened up on my mission b/c I drank in the scriptures like they were the best thing I had ever tasted! I read through the quad twice and made reference charts, and maps, and a synopsis. I completely soaked up as much as I could. I am still amazed that I was able to do that. I think that the purpose of my mission was to save my own soul and that I was out there for as long as I needed to be and accomplished the things I was meant to accomplish. Somehow along the way, definitely not by mine own efforts, I was able to see 11 baptisms!
After I was sent home, my parents and I read the scriptures together every night and I shared w/ them my knowledge and understanding. I was disfellowshipped, yet even when I was reinstated I never really felt forgiven or had finally got that testimony of the Atonement I so desperately wanted *ahem* want. For whatever reason the Atonement is still one of the things I only know in my head, and not in my heart. I hate that.
Since getting married my wife and I strive to do what we know is right. We go in spurts like I think some other couples do. We are constantly wanting to better ourselves. We just need to stop being so fucking lazy and DO IT! I do think we're better than my parents were when I was growing up and that we are raising our kids in a more spiritual way. We try to do FHE w/ them, say prayers every night as a family and at meals, attend church (most of the time) and teach them about God and gospel principles.
I love being Mormon. I know it is the true church. I have been blessed so abundantly even though I've been a major fuck up for most of my life. I know the scriptures are true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and did all the things he said he did. I know that God loves me and that I'm his son and he knows my heart. I know that family, home and church are the absolutely most important things in life and that they should be #1 over everything else. I hope my testimony and relationship w/ the Savior can continue to develop and that someday I will finally feel that genuine love and forgiveness from him and have the passion and desire to do what's right above all else.